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G.R. No.


October 27, 2006

SPS. HENRY and ROSARIO UY, petitioners,

HON. JUDGE ARSENIO P. ADRIANO, in his capacity as Pairing Judge of RTC, Br. 64, Tarlac



Challenged in this instant Petition for Review on Certiorari is the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals
(CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 62103 which affirmed the Orders of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tarlac
City2 denying the motion to quash the Information in Criminal Case Nos. 6512-94.
Based on a confidential information that petitioner Henry Uy had been engaged in manufacturing,
delivering, and selling "fake" Marca Pia soy sauce,3 Orlando S. Bundoc, Intelligence Officer II of the
Economic Intelligence and Investigation Bureau (EIIB), applied for a search warrant 4 for unfair
competition which was granted on February 14, 1994. When the search warrant was implemented
on even date, Atty. Francisco R. Estavillo, agent of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in
Tarlac, seized fifty-five (55) bottles of label Marca Pia soy sauce.5
Consequently, a criminal complaint was filed in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Tarlac City on
March 23, 1994, charging petitioner Henry Uy with violation of Article 189 (Unfair Competition) of the
Revised Penal Code.6
On November 8, 1994, private respondent Piakamasarap Corporation moved to amend the criminal
charge by including Henry's spouse, petitioner Rosario Uy.7 The court granted the motion in its Order
dated November 15, 1994 and admitted the amended criminal complaint which reads:
of 583 Sta. Veronica St., Novaliches, Quezon City, and by authority of the said corporation,
under oath accuses HENRY UY, ROSARIO GUTIERREZ UY and a certain JOHN DOE of
Violation of Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code, committed as follows:
That on or about February 14, 1994, and for sometimes (sic) prior thereto, in Municipality of
Tarlac, Tarlac, Philippines, the said Rosario G. Uy accused, being then the owner of a
business establishment with principal address at Phase I, Northern Hills Subdivision, San
Vicente, Tarlac, Tarlac, and her co-accused, husband, HENRY UY, and a certain John Doe,
did then and there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously conspire and confederate together and
help one another engaged in unfair competition with the intention of deceiving and
defrauding the public in general and the consuming public in general and PIAKAMASARAP
Corporation, the manufacturer and bottler of soy sauce under the name "MARCA PIA," a
[trademark] duly registered with the Philippine Patent Office and sell or offer for sale soy

sauce manufactured by them with the brand name "Marca Pia" which is a bastard version
of the trademark, and using the bottles of Piakamasarap Corporation and substituted the
contents thereof with those manufactured by the accused and passing to the public that said
products to be the products of Piakamasarap Corporation which is not true, thereby
inducing the public to believe that the above-mentioned soy sauce sold or offered for sale by
said accused are genuine "MARCA PIA" soy sauce manufactured by PIAKAMASARAP
CORPORATION, and of inferior quality to the damage and prejudice of the Piakamasarap
Contrary to law.
Tarlac, Tarlac, November 8, 1994.8
After preliminary examination of the prosecution witnesses, the court found probable cause to indict
petitioners.9On January 30, 1995, the court issued a warrant of arrest against petitioners. 10 They
were released after posting a cash bond on February 1, 1995. 11 On July 10, 1995, petitioners were
arraigned, assisted by counsel, and pleaded not guilty to the charge. 12 Petitioners, through counsel,
waived the pre-trial conference on October 25, 1995. The initial trial was set on November 27,
However, it was only on February 26, 1996 that the first witness of the prosecution, Atty. Estavillo of
the NBI, testified. In the meantime, in October 1996, this Court issued Administrative Order (A.O.)
No. 104-96 providing, inter alia, that the RTC shall have exclusive jurisdiction over violations of
Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code and Republic Act (R.A.) No. 166, as amended, thus:
Despite the administrative order of the Court, the MTC continued with the trial. Gloria P. Tomboc,
Analyst of the Bureau of Food and Drugs Administration (BFAD), testified on August 25, 1997. In the
meantime, Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code were amended by R.A. No. 8293,
otherwise known as the Intellectual Property Code. Two years thereafter, Alfredo Lomboy, supervisor
of Piakamasarap Corporation, testified on August 30, 1999.

On December 12, 1999, the prosecution filed its formal offer of evidence. 14 In the meantime, on
October 22, 1999, Atty. Joselito L. Lim had moved to withdraw his appearance as counsel for
petitioners;15 the court had granted the motion on October 25, 1999;16 and the new counsel of
petitioners, Balbastro and Associates, had entered its appearance on November 24, 1999. 17
On February 15, 2000, the court resolved to admit the documentary evidence of the prosecution
except Exhibit "E" which was rejected by the court, and Exhibits "I" and "J" which were
withdrawn.18 The prosecution rested its case.
On March 10, 2000, petitioners, through their new counsel, filed a Motion for Leave to File Demurrer
to Evidence.19 The court granted the motion. In their demurrer,20 petitioners argued that a judgment of
acquittal is proper since no sufficient evidence was presented to prove beyond reasonable doubt
that they are guilty of the offense charged. The prosecution was not able to establish that they gave
their goods the general appearance of another manufacturer or dealer and that they had the intent to
defraud the public or Piakamasarap Corporation. Moreover, under both R.A. No. 166, as amended,
and its repealing law, R.A. No. 8293, the RTC had jurisdiction over the crime charged; hence, the
amended complaint should be quashed.
The prosecution opposed the demurrer to evidence, contending that it had presented proof beyond
reasonable doubt of the guilt of petitioners for the crime charged. The prosecution maintained that,
under Batas Pambansa (B.P.) Blg. 129, the MTC had jurisdiction over the crime charged in the light
of the imposable penalty for unfair competition under Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code. 21
In its Resolution dated May 16, 2000,22 the court held that there was prima facie evidence which, if
unrebutted or not contradicted, would be sufficient to warrant the conviction of petitioners. However,
the court ruled that the RTC was vested by law with the exclusive and original jurisdiction to try and
decide charges for violation of R.A. No. 166 as amended by R.A. No. 8293. Accordingly, the court
denied the demurrer to evidence and ordered the records of the case forwarded to the Office of the
Provincial Prosecutor for appropriate action.
The City Prosecutor forwarded the case records to the Clerk of Court of RTC, Br. 63, Tarlac
City.23 On June 19, 2000, the RTC ordered the City Prosecutor to conduct the requisite preliminary
investigation and to file the necessary Information if he found probable cause against petitioners.
The City Prosecutor found probable cause based on the findings of the MTC in its May 16, 2000
Resolution that there was a prima facie case against petitioners. 24 He filed an Information in the RTC
on July 18, 2000 for violation of Article 189 of the Revised Penal Code. 25 The Information reads:
That on or about February 14, 1994 and sometime prior thereto, at Tarlac City, and within the
jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, being the owner of a business
establishment with principal address at Phase I, Northern Hills Subd., San Vicente, Tarlac
City, the accused, conspiring, confederating and helping one another did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, in unfair competition with the intention of deceiving and
defrauding the public in general and the PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION, the name
"MARCA PIA," and sell or offer for sale soy sauce manufactured by them with the brand
name "Marca Pia," which is a version of the trademark, and using the bottles of
Piakamasarap Corporation and substituted the contents thereof with those manufactured
by the accused and passing to the public the products, thereby inducing the public to believe
that the soy sauce sold or offered for sale by the accused are genuine "MARCA PIA" soy
sauce, to the damage and prejudice of PIAKAMASARAP CORPORATION.

Petitioners filed a Motion to Quash the Information, 27 alleging that their rights to due process and
speedy trial had been violated. Other than the notice of hearing sent by the court, they never
received a subpoena which required them to submit their evidence during a preliminary
investigation. Petitioners further averred that certain delays in the trial are permissible, especially
when such delays are due to uncontrollable circumstances or by accident. In this case, the
inordinate delay was obviously brought by the lackadaisical attitude taken by the prosecutor in
prosecuting the case. Petitioners pointed out that there was already a delay of six (6) long years
from the time the initial complaint was filed, and that they had already been prejudiced. Their life,
liberty and property, not to mention their reputation, have been at risk as there has been no
determination of the issue of whether or not to indict them. Thus, the case should be dismissed in
order to free them from further capricious and oppressive dilatory tactics of the prosecution. Indeed,
their right to a speedy trial is part of due process, both of which are guaranteed by no less than the
fundamental law itself. They insisted that they should not be made to unjustly await the prosecution
of the charges against them.
In opposition, the City Prosecutor clarified that subpoenas were sent to the parties during the
preliminary investigation. In fact, petitioner Henry Uy appeared and submitted the case for resolution
without submitting additional evidence. Also, the proceedings in the MTC were not part of preliminary
investigation but the trial on the merits.28
On September 8, 2000, the court issued an Order denying the motion to quash. 29 The court ruled
While there must have been a protracted trial since the case was originally filed before the
Municipal Trial Court, a period of about six (6) years, as the accused contends, nevertheless
the delay if any, is partly attributable to the accused. [They] allowed the prosecution to rest
the evidence in chief before raising the issue of lack of jurisdiction. Had the accused
immediately raised the issue of lack of jurisdiction, this case could have been filed anew
before the RTC. The accused allowed themselves to be arraigned without raising the issue
of jurisdiction. In fact, the prosecution [had] rested its evidence in chief.
The parties may[,] however[,] stipulate in the pre-trial that all the proceedings taken before
the Municipal Trial Court are automatically reproduced and are considered part of the
prosecution's evidence, so that the trial will now be with respect to the reception of defense
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration of the Order31 which the trial court denied.32 At the same
time, the court granted the oral motion of the prosecution to amend the Information to reflect in its
caption that the law violated by the accused is R.A. No. 8293 and not Article 189 of the Revised
Penal Code. On October 12, 2000, the City Prosecutor filed an amended Information. The
inculpatory portion reads:
That on or about February 14, 1994 and sometimes prior thereto, at Tarlac City, and within
the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the accused, being the owner of a business
establishment with principal address at Phase I, Northern Hills Subd., San Vicente, Tarlac
City, the accused, conspiring, confederating and helping one another did then and there
willfully, unlawfully and feloniously, in Violation of Sec. 168 of R.A. No. 8293with the intention
of deceiving and defrauding the public in general and the PIAKAMASARAP
CORPORATION, the name "MARCA PIA," and sell or offer for sale soy sauce
manufactured by them with the brand name "Marca Pia," which is a version of the
trademark, and using the bottles of Piakamasarap Corporation and substituted the contents
thereof with those manufactured by the accused and passing to the public the products,

thereby inducing the public to believe that the soy sauce sold or offered for sale by the
accused are genuine "MARCA PIA" soy sauce, to the damage and prejudice of
Petitioners then filed before the CA a petition for certiorari with prayer for temporary restraining order
and preliminary injunction,34 on the sole ground that respondent judge committed grave abuse of
discretion in denying their motion to quash based on violation of their right to a speedy trial. They
claimed that there was no active effort on their part to delay the case as they merely attended the
scheduled hearings and participated in the preliminary investigation. On the contrary, it is the
prosecution that has the unmitigated obligation to immediately file the Information with the proper
court. The public prosecutor is supposedly knowledgeable of the existing laws and jurisprudence
since his office has the delicate task of prosecuting cases in behalf of the State. Under the Rules on
Criminal Procedure, he is the officer responsible for the direction and control of criminal
prosecutions. In the case at bar, the public prosecutor failed in his bounden duty by neglecting to file
the case in the court of competent jurisdiction. The prosecution could not advance a single reason to
justify the procedural error and instead pointed its accusing finger to petitioners who are just ordinary
citizens. Their failure to call the attention of the prosecution is neither acquiescence nor consent on
their part. While their former lawyer was obviously lackluster in their defense, the act of the counsel
should not deprive them of their constitutional right to a speedy trial. For petitioners, the
prosecution's blunder in procedure and ignorance of existing laws and jurisprudence far outweigh
whatever minimal participation, if any, they had in the protracted proceedings.
On March 21, 2003, the CA dismissed the petition.35 The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby DISMISSED for lack of
merit. The Orders dated September 8, 2000 and October 9, 2000 of the public respondent
are hereby DISMISSED.36
In dismissing the petition, the appellate court ratiocinated that:
[T]he right to a speedy disposition of a case, like the right to speedy trial, is deemed violated
only when the proceeding is attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays"
(Castillo v. Sandiganbayan, 328 SCRA 69, 76); "or when unjustified postponements of the
trial are asked for and secured, or when without cause or justifiable motive a long period of
time is allowed to elapse without the party having his case tried." (Binay v. Sandiganbayan,
316 SCRA 65, 93)
In the instant case, aside from the fact that it took almost six years for the prosecution to
complete the presentation of its evidence, petitioners failed to show that the delay, if ever
there is any, was caused solely by the prosecution. Neither did the petitioners show that the
proceedings before the Municipal Trial Court was attended by vexatious, capricious and
oppressive delays attributable to the prosecution or that unjustified postponements of the
trial were asked for and secured by the prosecution to the prejudice of the petitioners. The
fact alone that the prosecution had consumed six (6) years to complete its presentation of
evidence, without any allegation or proof that the prosecution has caused unreasonable
delays or that the proceeding was attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays,
to Our minds is not sufficient for the application upon the petitioners of their Constitutional
right to speedy trial. "A mere mathematical reckoning of the time involved, therefore, would
not be sufficient. In the application of the Constitutional guarantee of the right to speedy
disposition of cases, particular regard must also be taken of the facts and circumstances

peculiar to each case." (Binay v. Sandiganbayan, supra, p. 93). In the case at bar, petitioners
failed to present, for Our perusal, the circumstances attending the trial of their case before
the Municipal Trial Court.
The only controversy of the instant case lies in the fact that the Municipal Trial Court which
heard the case has no jurisdiction over the said case. While it may be conceded that the
prosecution erred in not filing the information against the petitioners to a proper court, still,
petitioners are not blameless in this regard. Petitioners, through their counsel, had actively
participated in the proceedings before the Municipal Trial Court. Petitioners had to wait for
almost six (6) years to elapse before they brought to the attention of the Municipal Trial Court
that it had no jurisdiction to hear the case against the petitioners. Petitioners have, by reason
of their participation in the proceedings before the Municipal Trial Court and also by reason
of their silence and inaction, allowed the Municipal Trial Court to proceed with a case for six
(6) years despite absence of jurisdiction of such court to hear the case. We cannot allow the
petitioners to reap from their acts or omissions. "A litigation is not a game of technicalities in
which one, more deeply schooled and skilled in the subtle art of movement and position,
entraps and destroys the other." (Fortune Corporation v. Court of Appeals, 229 SCRA 355,
"The constitutional privilege was never intended as furnishing a technical means for
escaping trial." (Esguerra v. Court of First Instance of Manila, et al., 95 Phil. 609, 611-612)
"The right of an accused to a speedy trial is guaranteed to him by the Constitution, but the
same shall not be utilized to deprive the State of a reasonable opportunity of fairly indicting
criminals. It secures rights to an accused, but it does not preclude the rights of public justice.
(Domingo v. Sandiganbayan, 322 SCRA 655, 667)37
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration, which the appellate court denied. 38
Petitioners sought relief from this Court on a petition for review, alleging that:
Petitioners reiterate their arguments in the CA to support the present petition. They aver that:
In this case, the prosecution took six (6) long and grueling years before it filed an Information
with a competent court, despite the fact that jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Courts over
trademark cases remained unchanged since the birth of the Trademark Law. Surely, this
inordinate delay can be considered a "vexatious, capricious and oppressive delay" which is
constitutionally impermissible in this jurisdiction pursuant to the right of the accused to
speedy trial.
Indeed, petitioners have been prejudiced. Their lives, liberty and property, not to mention
their reputation have all been put at risk for so long.
The public prosecutor failed to explain the reason for the delay. Truth to tell, even at this last
stage, the public prosecutor chooses to remain silent why it had unjustifiably taken him too
long to file this case before a competent court. Unfortunately, the Court of Appeals
deliberately ignored this glaring flaw committed by the public prosecutor and instead focused

on petitioners' alleged negligence in not raising the issue of jurisdiction earlier. It further ruled
that due to this fact, petitioners are thus not entirely blameless for the delay of the trial.
Truth to tell, these findings of the Court of Appeals are palpably erroneous.
Firstly, it is elementary that jurisdiction over the subject matter may be raised at any stage of
the proceedings. This is because no amount of waiver can confer jurisdiction on a court over
an offense for which such jurisdiction has not been conferred by law in the first place.
Secondly, even assuming that petitioners failed to raise the issue of jurisdiction earlier, still,
they could not be estopped from invoking their right to speedy trial. The delay to be
considered "partly attributable" to the accused (which could work against him in invoking the
right to speedy trial) presupposes an active effort of the defendant to delay the case
(Manabat v. Timbang, 74 Phil. 295). There is no violation of the right to speedy trial where
the delay is imputable to the accused (Solis v. Agloro, 63 SCRA 370). Here, it was the
prosecution that had the unmitigated obligation to file the Information with the correct court,
within a reasonable time. It did not. Such blunder was fatal to its cause.
To emphasize, petitioners need not even call the attention of the prosecution that it had failed
to file the case with the proper court, contrary to the opinion of the Court of Appeals. x x x 40
Although petitioners agree with the Court of Appeals that mere mathematical reckoning of
time would not be sufficient for the application of the right to speedy trial, still, the public
prosecutor's blunder should already be considered "vexatious, capricious and oppressive"
warranting the dismissal of the case.
Indeed, to condone the public prosecutor's manner of having directed this case, just like
what the Court of Appeals did, might give rise to a disturbing precedent where the
constitutional right of the accused could very well be set aside to justify the mishandling of
the prosecution by officers of the State.41
Section 1(h), Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure provides that the accused is
entitled to a speedy, impartial and public trial. Section 2, Rule 119 of the said Rules provides that
trial, once commenced, shall be continuous until terminated:
Sec. 2. Continuous trial until terminated; postponements. Trial, once commenced, shall
continue from day to day as far as practicable until terminated. It may be postponed for a
reasonable period of time for good cause.
The court shall, after consultation with the prosecutor and defense counsel, set the case for
continuous trial on a weekly or other short-term trial calendar at the earliest possible time so
as to ensure speedy trial. In no case shall the entire trial period exceed one hundred eighty
(180) days from the first day of trial, except as otherwise authorized by the Supreme Court.
The time limitations provided under this section and the preceding section shall not apply
where special laws or circulars of the Supreme Court provide for a shorter period of trial.
However, any period of delay resulting from a continuance granted by the court motu proprio, or on
motion of either the accused or his counsel, or the prosecution, if the court granted the continuance

on the basis of its findings set forth in the order that the ends of justice is served by taking such
action outweigh the best interest of the public and the accused on a speedy trial, shall be deducted.
The trial court may grant continuance, taking into account the following factors:
(a) Whether or not the failure to grant a continuance in the proceeding would likely make a
continuation of such proceeding impossible or result in a miscarriage of justice; and
(b) Whether or not the case taken as a whole is so novel, unusual and complex, due to the
number of accused or the nature of the prosecution, or that it is unreasonable to expect
adequate preparation within the periods of time established therein.
In addition, no continuance under section 3(f) of this Rule shall be granted because of
congestion of the court's calendar or lack of diligent preparation or failure to obtain available
witnesses on the part of the prosecutor.42
Under the Constitution and Section 1(7) of Rule 115 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the
accused shall be entitled to have a speedy and impartial trial. "Speedy trial" is a relative term and
necessarily a flexible concept.43 In determining whether the right of the accused to a speedy trial was
violated, the delay should be considered, in view of the entirety of the proceedings. 44 Indeed, mere
mathematical reckoning of the time involved would not suffice45 as the realities of everyday life must
be regarded in judicial proceedings which, after all, do not exist in a vacuum. 46
Apart from the constitutional provision and Section 115, Section 1(i) of the Rules of Criminal
Procedure, A.O. No. 113-95 of the Court provides that:
The trial of cases for violation of Intellectual Property Rights covered by this Administrative
Order shall be immediately commenced and shall continue from day to day to be terminated
as far as practicable within sixty (60) days from initial trial. Judgment thereon shall be
rendered within thirty (30) days from date of submission for decision.
More than a decade after the 1972 leading U.S. case of Barker v. Wingo47 was promulgated, this
Court, in Martin v. Ver,48 began adopting the "balancing test" to determine whether a defendant's
right to a speedy trial has been violated. As this test necessarily compels the courts to approach
speedy trial cases on an ad hoc basis, the conduct of both the prosecution and defendant are
weighed apropos the four-fold factors, to wit: (1) length of the delay; (2) reason for the delay; (3)
defendant's assertion or non-assertion of his right; and (4) prejudice to defendant resulting from the
delay.49 None of these elements, however, is either a necessary or sufficient condition; they are
related and must be considered together with other relevant circumstances. These factors have no
talismanic qualities as courts must still engage in a difficult and sensitive balancing process. 50
A. Length of the Delay
The length of delay is to some extent a "triggering mechanism." Until there is some delay, which is
presumptively prejudicial, there is no necessity to inquire into the other three factors. Nevertheless,
due to the imprecision of the right to a speedy trial, the length of delay that will provoke such an
inquiry is necessarily dependent upon the peculiar circumstances of the case. 51
B. Reason for the Delay

Under Section 9, Rule 119 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure, the accused have the
burden to prove the factual basis of the motion to quash the Information on the ground of denial of
their right to a speedy trial.52 They must demonstrate that the delay in the proceedings is vexatious,
capricious, and oppressive; or is caused by unjustified postponements that were asked for and
secured; or that without cause or justifiable motive, a long period of time is allowed to elapse without
the case being tried.53 On the other hand, the prosecution is required to present evidence
establishing that the delay was reasonably attributed to the ordinary processes of justice, and that
petitioners suffered no serious prejudice beyond that which ensued after an inevitable and ordinary
The records bear out the contention of petitioners that there had been a considerable delay in the
trial in the MTC. Upon motion/agreement of petitioners and the prosecution, or because of the joint
absences, the trial of the case was delayed for more than 11 months. 55 In its own instance, the MTC
also reset some of the trial dates in order to correct mistakes in scheduling or because the witnesses
were not duly notified,56 thus, delaying the trial of the case for an additional seven months. Even
petitioners contributed to the delay of more than five months they or their former counsel were
either absent or moved for postponements to attend another pending case or due to health
concerns.57 The delay of about 21 months, covering 15 re-settings, can be attributed to the
prosecution. However, except in five instances, when the trial was reset because the private
prosecutor had to attend to some professional58 and personal matters,59 the delays were brought
about because of the recent engagement of legal service, 60 absence of the public prosecutor,61 and
unavailability of documents62 and witnesses.63
Not only the petitioners but the State as well were prejudiced by the inordinate delay in the trial of
the case. It took the prosecution more than four years to rest its case after presenting only three
witnesses. Had the prosecution, petitioner and the trial court been assiduous in avoiding any
inordinate delay in the trial, the prosecution could have rested its case much earlier. The court even
failed to order the absent counsel/prosecutor/witnesses to explain/justify their absences or cite them
for contempt. The speedy trial mandated by the Constitution and the Revised Rules of Criminal
Procedure is as much the responsibility of the prosecution, the trial court and petitioners to the
extent that the trial is inordinately delayed, and to that extent the interest of justice is prejudiced.
The case before the RTC should not be dismissed simply because the public prosecution did not
move for the dismissal of the case in the MTC based on A.O. No. 104-96 declaring that the RTC has
exclusive jurisdiction over cases under Articles 188 and 189 of the Revised Penal Code; or for failure
of the MTC to motu proprio dismiss the case on that ground. The City Prosecutor then believed in
good faith, albeit erroneously, that under R.A. No. 7691 which amended B.P. Blg. 129, the MTC had
jurisdiction over the crime charged.
The mistake of the City Prosecutor and the failure of the MTC to dismiss the case motu proprio
should not prejudice the interest of the State to prosecute criminal offenses and, more importantly,
defeat the right of the offended party to redress for its grievance. Significantly, petitioners do not
attribute to the prosecution or to the MTC any malice aforethought or conscious disregard of their
right to a speedy trial; nor have substantially proven the same by clear and convincing evidence.
Hence, absent showing of bad faith or gross negligence, delay caused by the lapse of the
prosecution is not in itself violative of the right to a speedy trial.
Different weights should be assigned to various reasons by which the prosecution justifies the delay.
A deliberate attempt to delay the trial in order to hamper the defense should be weighed heavily
against the prosecution. A more neutral reason such as negligence or overcrowded courts should be
weighed less heavily but nevertheless should be considered since the ultimate responsibility for such
circumstances must rest with the government rather than with defendant. 64

In Corpuz v. Sandiganbayan,65 the Court had carefully balanced the societal interest in the case,
which involved the so-called "tax credit certificates scam," and the need to give substance to the
defendants' constitutional rights. In said suit, we upheld the decision of the Sandiganbayan (Special
Fourth Division) that the dismissal of the cases was too drastic, precipitate and unwarranted. While
the Court recognized that defendants were prejudiced by the delay in the reinvestigation of the
cases and the submission of a complete report by the Ombudsman/Special Prosecutor to the
Sandiganbayan, we underscored that the State should not be prejudiced and deprived of its right to
prosecute cases simply because of the ineptitude or nonchalance of the Ombudsman/Special
Prosecutor. "An overzealous or precipitate dismissal of a case may enable defendant, who may be
guilty, to go free without having been tried, thereby infringing the societal interest in trying people
accused of crimes by granting them immunization because of legal error."66
The same observation was made in Valencia v. Sandiganbayan.67 Here, the Court noted the
haphazard manner by which the prosecutor handled the litigation for the State when he rested the
case without adducing evidence for the prosecution and simply relying on the Joint Stipulation of
Facts, which the accused did not even sign before its submission to the Sandiganbayan. In allowing
the prosecution to present additional evidence and in dismissing the claim of the accused that his
constitutional right to a speedy trial had been violated, we ruled:
As significant as the right of an accused to a speedy trial is the right of the State to prosecute
people who violate its penal laws. The right to a speedy trial is deemed violated only when
the proceeding is attended by vexatious, capricious and oppressive delays x x x [T]o
erroneously put premium on the right to speedy trial in the instant case and deny the
prosecution's prayer to adduce additional evidence would logically result in the dismissal of
the case for the State. There is no difference between an order outrightly dismissing the case
and an order allowing the eventual dismissal thereof. Both would set a dangerous precedent
which enables the accused, who may be guilty, to go free without having been validly tried,
thereby infringing the interest of the society.68
Certainly, the right to speedy trial cannot be invoked where to sustain the same would result in a
clear denial of due process to the prosecution. It should not operate in depriving the State of its
inherent prerogative to prosecute criminal cases or generally in seeing to it that all those who
approach the bar of justice is afforded fair opportunity to present their side. 69 For it is not only the
State; more so, the offended party who is entitled to due process in criminal cases. 70 In essence, the
right to a speedy trial does not preclude the people's equally important right to public justice. 71 Thus,
as succinctly decreed in State v. McTague:72
The constitutional and statutory provisions for a speedy trial are for the protection of the
defendant, but that does not mean that the state is the only one that may initiate action.
There is really no reason for the courts to free an accused simply because a dilatory
prosecutor has 'gone to sleep at the switch' while the defendant and his counsel rest in
silence. These solicitous provisions are not to be used as offensive weapons, but are for the
benefit of defendants who claim their protection. They are a shield, and they 'must not be left
hanging on the wall of the armory.' It is for the protection of personal rights, not to embarrass
the administration of the criminal law nor to defeat public justice.
Be that as it may, the conduct of the City Prosecutor and the MTC must not pass without admonition.
This Court must emphasize that the State, through the court and the public prosecutor, has the
absolute duty to insure that the criminal justice system is consistent with due process and the
constitutional rights of the accused. Society has a particular interest in bringing swift prosecutions,
and the society's representatives are the ones who should protect that interest. The trial court and
the prosecution are not without responsibility for the expeditious trial of criminal cases. The burden

for trial promptness is not solely upon the defense. The right to a speedy trial is constitutionally
guaranteed and, as such, is not to be honored only for the vigilant and the knowledgeable. 73
C. Petitioners' Assertion of the Right
The assertion of the right to a speedy trial is entitled to strong evidentiary weight in determining
whether defendant is being deprived thereof. Failure to claim the right will make it difficult to prove
that there was a denial of a speedy trial.74
Except in only one instance in this case,75 the records are bereft of any evidence that petitioners,
through counsel, have bothered to raise their objection to the several re-setting of the trial dates.
This is not unexpected since, as already shown, the reasons for the delay are not in themselves
totally inexcusable or unreasonable. Moreover, petitioners actively participated in the trial when the
prosecution presented its evidence, as they scrutinized the documentary evidence and crossexamined the witnesses. Until the filing of the motion to quash in the RTC, they never contested the
prosecutorial proceedings nor timely challenged the pendency of the case in the MTC.
While it is true that lack of jurisdiction may be assailed at any stage of the proceedings, such
defense must be seasonably raised at the earliest possible opportunity. Otherwise, active
participation in the trial would estop a party from later challenging such want of jurisdiction. 76
In the same vein, one's failure to timely question the delay in the trial of a case would be an implied
acceptance of such delay and a waiver of the right to question the same. Except when otherwise
expressly so provided, the speedy trial right, like any other right conferred by the Constitution or
statute, may be waived when not positively asserted.77 A party's silence may amount to laches.78 The
right to a speedy trial is a privilege of the accused. If he does not claim it, he should not complain.
R.A. No. 8493 (Speedy Trial Act of 1998) is a means of enforcing Section 14(2), Article III of the
Constitution.79 The spirit of the law is that the accused must go on record in the attitude of
demanding a trial or resisting delay. If he does not do this, he must be held, in law, to have waived
the privilege.
This Court cannot subscribe to petitioners' untiring argument that, being "ordinary citizens," they
should not be made to suffer from the "lackluster" performance of their former counsel who failed to
recognize the MTC's want of jurisdiction. Too often we have held that a client is bound by the acts,
mistakes or negligence of his counsel.80This is, as it should be, since a counsel has the implied
authority to do all acts which are necessary or, at least, incidental to the prosecution and
management of the suit in behalf of his client. Any act performed within the scope of his general and
implied authority is, in the eyes of the law, regarded as the act of the client. 81 If the rule were
otherwise, there would be no end to litigation so long as a new counsel could be employed who
would allege and show that the prior counsel had not been sufficiently diligent, experienced, or
learned.82 It would enable every party to render inutile an adverse order or decision through the
simple expedient of alleging gross negligence on the part of the counsel. 83 Every shortcoming of a
counsel could be the subject of challenge by his client through another counsel who, if he is also
found wanting, would likewise be disowned by the same client through another counsel, and so on
ad infinitum.84 Proceedings would then be indefinite, tentative and at times, subject to reopening by
the simple subterfuge of replacing counsel.85
While the rule admits of certain exceptions,86 we find none present in this case. Other than his
obvious failure to assert lack of jurisdiction, Atty. Lim undeniably represented the cause of his clients
in the MTC proceedings. Interestingly, their new counsel, wittingly or unwittingly, raised the issue of
jurisdiction only four months after it entered its appearance, 87 thus, adding to the delay.

D. Prejudice to the Petitioners

In the Barker case,88 the different interests of a defendant which may be affected by the violation of
the right to a speedy trial were identified. It was held that prejudice should be assessed in the light of
the interests of a defendant which the speedy trial right was designed to protect, namely: (1) to
prevent oppressive pretrial incarceration; (2) to minimize anxiety and concern of the accused; and
(3) to limit the possibility that the defense will be impaired. Of these, the most serious is the last,
because the inability of a defendant to adequately prepare his case skews the fairness of the entire
system. If witnesses die or disappear during a delay, the prejudice is obvious. There is also prejudice
if defense witnesses are unable to recall accurately events of the distant past. Loss of memory,
however, is not always reflected in the record because what has been forgotten can rarely be shown.
Even if an accused is not incarcerated prior to trial, he is still disadvantaged by restraints on his
liberty and by living under a cloud of anxiety, suspicion, and often hostility.89 After all, arrest is a
public act that may seriously interfere with the defendant's liberty, whether he is free on bail or not,
and that may disrupt his employment, drain his financial resources, curtail his associations, subject
him to public obloquy, and create anxiety in him, his family and friends.90
Again, a perusal of the records failed to reveal that the delay in bringing petitioners to trial in a court
of competent jurisdiction caused them any prejudice tantamount to deprivation of their right to a
speedy trial. Petitioners in this case were not subjected to pretrial incarceration, oppressive or
otherwise, thus eliminating the first Barker consideration bearing on prejudice.
As to the minimization of anxiety and concern of the accused, there is no showing that petitioners
suffered undue pressures in this respect. Mere reference to a general asseveration that their "life,
liberty and property, not to mention reputation" have been prejudiced is not enough. There must be
conclusive factual basis, as this Court cannot rely on pure speculation or guesswork. Surely, a
pending criminal case may cause trepidation but, as stressed in Barker, the standard here is
minimization, not necessarily elimination of the natural consequences of an indictment. While this is
not to be brushed off lightly, it is not by itself sufficient to support a claim of denial of the right to a
speedy trial.
There is no factual basis for the claim of petitioners that we are not supplied with any specific
allegation in the record, nor witnesses or evidence may become unavailable because of the delays
in this case. To repeat, the claim of impairment of defense because of delay must be specific and not
by mere conjecture. Vague assertions of faded memory will not suffice. Failure to claim that
particular evidence had been lost or had disappeared defeats speedy trial claim.
As neither the specific types of prejudice mentioned in Barker nor any others have been brought to
the Court's attention, we are constrained to dismiss petitioners' claim. The passage of time alone,
without a significant deprivation of liberty or impairment of the ability to properly defend oneself, is
not absolute evidence of prejudice. The right to a speedy trial is not primarily intended to prevent
prejudice to the defense caused by the passage of time; that interest is protected primarily by the
due process clause and the statutes of limitations.91
In several cases where it is manifest that due process of law or other rights guaranteed by the
Constitution or statutes has been denied, this Court has not faltered to accord the so-called "radical
relief" to keep accused from enduring the rigors and expense of a full-blown trial. 92 In this case,
however, there appears no persuasive, much less compelling, ground to allow the same relief for
absence of clear and convincing showing that the delay was unreasonable or arbitrary and was
seasonably objected to by petitioners.

IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The March
21, 2003 Decision and July 17, 2003 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. The
Regional Trial Court, Branch 64, Tarlac City, is directed to proceed with the trial on the merits of the
criminal case with all reasonable and judicious dispatch consistent with the right of petitioners to a
speedy trial. No costs.
Panganiban, C.J. (Chairperson), Ynares-Santiago, Austria-Martinez, and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.